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| posted on 22/9/2002 at 05:09 AM|
|In the first three chapters, we learn that Siddhartha is privileged (the
son of a Brahman), cultivated, extremely clever and very, very unhappy. He
discovers early on that he can learn everything except the atman (a
Sanskrit term meaning approximately the individual self or universal soul).
He could be content with knowledge and privilege, but is tortured by this
one gap, knowing the unknowable. He decides that he can not learn this one
thing with his family, friends and the Brahmans because << ...-unendlich
vieles wußten sie- aber war es wertvoll, dies alles zu wissen, wenn man das
Eine und Einzige nicht wußte, das Wichtigste, das allein Wichtige?>>
("...-they knew an infinite amount- but was it of any value to know all
this when they did not know the one and only thing, the most important
thing, the only important thing?)|
He leaves to join the samanas (a wandering ascetic group of mendicants),
thinking that by renouncing self and possession, by hardship and study, he
will learn what he needs to know. I have had similar thoughts myself...
that the secular world has a corrupting effect on the spirit and only by
renouncing that can we overcome it. I would appreciate others´ views on
It does not work for Siddhartha. He learns much from the samanas after
studying with them for two years (including pulling a neat "Jedi-mind
trick" on his former master... I´ve read similar real life exploits in
"Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain". Deserves looking into), but
no matter how many times or how effectively he casts off the self (dwells
in the nonself) to discover "the Great Mystery", it never happens. He is
forced to concede that <> (What I have
learned from the samanas up to this day... I could have learned more
quickly and more simply").
He and his companion Govinda learn of Gotama, who is alleged to be the
Buddha, so they seek him out. After listening to Gotama´s doctrine,
Govinda decides to join him. Siddhartha does not. Siddhartha speaks with
Gotama before he takes his leave and explains that his doctrine is
flawless... except (that one thing again!) it can only describe the path...
it can not confer to one the experience of genuine transcendence. Gotama
explains that that was never the purpose of his doctrine... <> (Its goal is different; its goal is deliverance
from suffering. This is what Gotama preaches, and nothing else.) It can not
deliver Siddhartha from the burning in his heart, and so he leaves the
Buddha and his friend Govinda.
Two small observations... Siddhartha´s burning for knowledge seems to me to
be very similar to what the shamans call "fire in the head". Is anyone
else familiar with this? In a cross-cultural way, much of this speaks to
me as profoundly as it must speak to someone familiar with the Buddhist
doctrines. Also, Siddhartha´s search for atman... how is that very
different from what Squid has been discussing in the forums recently about
transending the Universe? If I am reading too much into this, please let me
know. I am
your humble servant,
"I believe that woman is planning to shoot me again."
| posted on 23/9/2002 at 10:40 AM|
|I guess so since noone else has really replied much. |
I am currently reading Learn Programming, Using Visual Basic.Net.
but at least you know, just how much pain there is in living
| posted on 23/9/2002 at 04:22 PM|
|I am becomeing a Dreamweaver MASTER!! hee hee... all ready have my
certification in Photoshop and 2 other things...hee hee... Sorry Mono...i
cant find the book in Okinawa.|
"Roses are Red, Violets are Blue. I'm a schizophrenic, and so am I".
| posted on 23/9/2002 at 05:30 PM|
|I read Siddhartha three times repeatedly when i had it in my sophomore
English class, and internalized the struggle o SIddhartha to my own life.
I cried for much of the last bit of the book, but they were all tears of
Culturally, we don´t see much of the search for enlightenment or true
thought in nations that began industrializing early. Coincidentally, most
of those nations adopted monotheistic religions.
The quest for knowledge is almost a religion in itself-- we only see it
highlighted in most of the Eastern religions though. Christianity,
Catholicism, and Islam all carry a different measure-- while anyone who
reads the bible fully and understands it realizes that Jesus tells them to
put down the book and learn the truth for themselves that they too can be a
god, what we see from the priests is a message to worship figures who have
quenched the "fire in the head"-- rather than quench their own fires. It
is only in the east that we see true liberation and worship of the idea of
thought rather than the individual who carries the thought. Buddha warns
against following the path of ones who have become enlightened, as each
must find their own path to the truth, and there is no formula for wisdom.
"Better than a thousand words is the one word that brings peace, and in
that word you must each find your own."
Make way for the bad guy!
| posted on 23/9/2002 at 07:39 PM|
I am not sure that I agree that the quest for knowledge (I would say
"understanding") is more pronounced in the eastern than the western
traditions, although it has become fashionable to make that claim. This is
not the place to debate that at length, but within the framework of this
discussion it is actually valuable to point out that the book is a product
of western thought... Hermann Hesse was Swiss and not a Buddhist. While he
uses Buddhist iconography to bound this particuliar story, he has said many
of the same things in other works with entirely European settings.
Although it is valuable to compare and contrast what Hesse is saying with
tenets of Buddhism (or any other doctrine), it would be wisest for the
purpose of a book discussion to establish what it is that the author is
actually saying before supporting or refuting it. I am limiting my
discussion per agreement to only the first three chapters at this time, but
I think that you very correctly pointed out that the Buddhism that Hesse
has presented to the reader does seem to be saying (so far) that the
individual must experience the path first-hand. To use an analogy, does
reading about and studying the history of the manufacture of the automobile
make one a better driver?
Alone and Morte:
You do not need to state explicitly that you haven´t read the book. I do
appreciate the input, but I, for one, am more interested in quality than
quantity. If I were all that concerned about getting a ton of responses
that had nothing to do with anything, I would simply suggest that someone
here wasn´t goth enough.
"I believe that woman is planning to shoot me again."
| posted on 23/9/2002 at 08:04 PM|
|I would like to mention, though...|
I had not read "Siddhartha" before now, and had not read "A Clockwork
Orange" in nearly fifteen years. I have made time to read these things
because I thought this book club sounded like a nice idea. It was not my
idea and I am not running this show. It seemed to me that a Socratic
discussion where we could all draw from the same material had the potential
to bring us closer in our understandings. I´m not seeing that.
I wasn´t joking about the "not goth enough" comment. If what we are really
interested in is playing online one-upmanship games, let me know so that I
can readjust. If someone pours a lot of time and energy into trying to
post something worthwhile, or ask a genuine question, nobody responds or
people make a quick, flippant, dismissive response and the thread dies
quickly with nobody being any the wiser for it. If someone is an attention
starved ass, they can get 7 pages of replies in a day in which people see
who can be more offensive than the last person.
If you guys really don´t want to have a book discussion, let me know so
that I can get on with things.
"I believe that woman is planning to shoot me again."
| posted on 23/9/2002 at 08:05 PM|
|I´d love to debate Mono, but you´re right and I do believe we should
probably put a hold on the actual debate until all finish the book.|
I haven´t read the book in two years, but I´m not sure about the European
settings part, however. If you could eloborate on that, I´d be grateful..
Going to try to pick up another copy of it monday and sit down and read it
Make way for the bad guy!
| posted on 23/9/2002 at 08:31 PM|
|Mort, how much is Dreamweaver? My bro downloaded it off the net, it´s a
wonderful program but we lost it when a virus came call one day. |
heh, M, I´d like to help out but the only free time I have is up late at
night playing a game because I can´t sleep and then, my memory is very
I could make some more time out and check out the next book you guys
suggest. Set up some crunch hours yes but still, I need to catch up on some
intelligent reading...I´m tired of seeing these ramped "you´re not goff"
conversations. I´ll finish my D-Day book from Ambroson soon and make room
for another. *i still haven´t finished it, very detailed. good stuff.
I really want to see this Shmeng book club grow so people PLEASE, atleast
let him know that his efforts won´t be in vain.
size=1> but at least you know, just how much pain there is in living
| posted on 6/1/2003 at 10:39 PM|
|personally Ive never read the book, but on the note of the secular world
corrupting, I disagree. Though many have found enlightenment after giving
up that way of life, some have found it by being in the middle of it.
Nietzsche was disgusted by the self riteous attitude of the German people
and there Industrialization of the country. Where once there where farms,
now factories, and the Germans where happy. Nietzsche asked how it could be
considered an improvement. It was this culture that formed his perspectives
on subjective reality and the truths of mankind, fighting his own battle
for enlightenment when he tried to pull the veil away from the phantasm of
the real universe. Then again, he was rebeling against the materialism of
the time, so I'm probably wrong, way off topic, and making an ass of
“The only thing that can alter the good writer is death.”
“You know that if I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back a buzzard.
Nothing hates him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat
| posted on 7/1/2003 at 08:56 PM|
|I do not recall Nietzche making those claims, but I have only read
Götzen-Dämmerung and Der Antichrist. I would respond to the claim that
people have found "enlightenment" (another largely meaningless term) in
spite of, and not because of, secular society. What they have achieved by
doing this, in my opinion, is what I call finding their "inner monastery".
I have argued this point with many and have yet to hear a real case that
the secular world is not a spiritual pollutant. |
I would not say that you are making an ass of yourself by bringing this up,
but I will have to say that it is, sadly, off topic. I think that this
discussion could easily merit its own forum, however (not to say that a new
forum would remain anywhere near "on-topic" either). Also, if there is a
particular one of Nietzche's books that you would like to submit for future
debate, I would encourage it. One very real problem with doing that is, in
addition to different translations, many early volumes of Nietzche's were
edited posthumously by his sister. She did not take credit for doing this,
but she did alter the content of much of what was said, making Nietzche
appear a great deal more racist than he actually was. It would, therefore,
be next to impossible to standardize a discussion on this site using those
materials. Best of luck!
| posted on 5/10/2003 at 10:06 PM|
|[prelude] I need to read this book again - it is a favorite and have read
it many times, but my copy was loaned to one who failed to return it. I
only hope that it is being read somewhere.... [/prelude]|
I too have found myself internalizing this story at various stages in my
life, and often the relationship to the book changes.
I do think that what Hesse was trying to say was that Siddhartha, as a
seeker, was wrapped up too much in the act of seeking. A similar attitude
may be found in some of the older Grail lore - that to find the holy Grail,
or the Atman, or whathaveyou, the seeker needs to stop seeking. Only when
Siddhartha relaxes his tenacious grip on the search for Enlightenment, is
he able to understand. It is an experiential thing, and his teacher is the
river, not another enlightned person.
This is again a fairly common, yet oft misunderstood or ignored lesson to
life, and can also be applied to society as a whole.
also - Christianity/Judaism/Islam are not technically western religions,
although they have become so. Their roots sprang from the middle east, not
that far geographically from the roots of Buddhism (which if you want to
get really technical is not a religion in that there is no god).
| posted on 10/10/2003 at 11:27 AM|
|I live for discussions like this!|
I would like to attempt to get back on topic and respond to Mono's earlier
question, as far as the reference to the "fire in the head" is concerned.
As I know it, the "fire in the head" is a term originating in Celtic lore,
specifically in Ireland, and it is regarded as a burning desire to discover
something, write something, create something using inspiration. The term
can be used in this discussion to show that there is inspiration, but has
difficulty making itself known. When you were discussing Siddhartha's
"burning desire" I only perceived it as actual (or close to actual) quotes
from the Enlightened One himself, describing the emotions he was feeling at
that certain time. I would have never made the connection to the "fire in
the head," and I am quite amazed that it was made. Kudos to you Mono, as
you definitely deserve them. I really should read this book, whatever it
is, because it seems to hold a wealth of knowledge I have not yet
discovered. I like very much the term "inner monastery" as well, and I
think everyone has something like it, and that they need to discern for
themselves what exactly it is.
To respond to the secular corruption and other notions of modern
Actually, no, I have another thing I want to say that just might be
relevant to the original topics of my post. I can't for the life of me
remember who created the idea of the "collective human unconscious" but
whoever it was might be able to answer a question that just sprang into my
In case you don't know (if you don't, I hope this makes sense. I can only
expel the points of this theory that I know immediately, which isn't much)
the theory of the "collective human unconscious" is that all human beings
are tied by an almost telepathic bond, and through this bond we can
exchange ideas without ever talking or meeting one another. In this way,
it can be explained as to why ancient civilizations discovered certain
things like metal working at virtually the same time. Now, given some
societies were more creative or more intellectual and therefore discovered
new things faster, but the underlying thought is that as a whole the human
race knows, subconsciously (not through instinct), what is happening to
everyone else, due to this bond. So, here is the point, or rather,
question, that is the final note of all these musings...
For you history scholars out there, when was Siddhartha delving into
religion and forsaking his birthrights, and what was happening in the
Celtic nations at this time? Perhaps a great religious leader was making
his or her ideas known at the same time, using the "fire in the head"
phrase to describe their emotional state, at or around the same time
Siddhartha was going through his ordeals.
Call me crazy, but something just might be there...
"Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't."
The perfect mind is like a mirror. It grasps nothing. It expects nothing.
It reflects but does not hold. Therefore, the perfect man can act without
| posted on 12/10/2003 at 04:25 AM|
|pARIS: I think that it is a nice way to sum things up, although that
explanation is a bit misleading. There is a dynamic by which you become
blocked from achievement by the effort you expend on it. The Taoist
solution is "Thoughtless Thought" in which you perform and act without
analysis. When the Buddha achieved enlightment under the bo tree, he was
contemplating the nature of suffering. The first law of the Buddha is that
suffering is caused by desire. Siddhartha's desire to know the Atman was,
therefore, precisely what prevented him from doing it. Good call!|
chameleon: It seemed to me that it was a case of "fire in the head", at
least as it was hinted at by W.B. Yeats. Thanks for the confirmation.
Incidentally, the term Collective Unconscious was coined originally by Carl
Gustav Jung, although it is a bit misleading. It is not meant as a
telepathic bond or Akashic record (which was what you really described) so
much as a coming to terms that all humans come from the same stuff. Our
neural pathways are similar no matter what our culture or conditioning, so
our unconscious minds all respond in thematically similar ways. That's
really all that means. There has been a phenomenon that has been noted in
which different people all come up with similar innovations in widely
spaced geographies more or less simultaneously (Mendellian genetics was
independently arrived at by four different men from around the world within
thirty years of one another), but as far as I know there is no name for
| posted on 14/10/2003 at 06:18 PM|
|Well, I just recently visited the thrice-accursed public library (I'm a
Barnes n' Noble kinda guy) and checked out Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse,
assuming that this is the bookw e're all talking about. I also got Seven
Centuries of Verse, which some of you might know from the movie/book Dead
Poets Society. Anyway...|
Akashic record? What the heck is that? Book club? Since we did shmeng
have a book club? And why wasn't I notified? I now have books, now tell
me what to do with them. (other than read them fo course)
The perfect mind is like a mirror. It grasps nothing. It expects
It reflects but does not hold. Therefore, the perfect man can act